PITTSFIELD — Thirteen students from the EQ&IQ School in Wuhan, China, performed in front of students, staff and alumni at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield on Monday afternoon in celebration of the partnership between the two schools.

The “strategic relationship” the schools developed in 2018 includes Chinese instructors teaching the MCI curriculum in a separate building on the EQ&IQ campus, a two-week trip where EQ&IQ students travel to MCI’s campus to take courses, and a dual diploma program.

Chinese student Adam Zhang, left, demonstrates Tai Chi with others Monday at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson

The afternoon kicked off with a welcome speech and gift exchange between Christopher McDonald, the head of MCI, and Chen Sulan, the wife of the founder EQ&IQ.

“I want to welcome everyone to this very special celebration of culture,” McDonald said. “With this being the second year of the partnership I hope the relationship between MCI and EQ&IQ just continues and flourishes.”

McDonald presented Sulan with a framed photo of MCI’s campus to bring back to Wuhan.

“I appreciate the opportunity for our students to travel here,” Sulan said. “The academics and experience of living abroad will be precious for the students when they go to college.”

The performance began with a reading of A.E. Houseman’s poem “To an Athlete Dying Young,” read by an EQ&IQ staff member, followed by a rendition of  “Auld Lang Syne” sung by the students.

Students then presented two large banners with Chinese calligraphy scrawled across them as a gift to MCI. The sayings written on the banners pertained to the unity between the two schools and its working relationship.

The students then read phrases from Confucius in both Chinese and English as an introduction to Chinese culture. The students stood with their arms balanced in front of them as they read the phrases from the paper which, according to staff, was meant as a sign of respect. After one student performed a song on the guitar the rest of the group joined him again in a demonstration of Tai Chi, a form of ancient Chinese martial arts.

Three students ended the afternoon’s performances with a demonstration of calligraphy, the Chinese art of writing with a brush and ink.

Alicia Nichols, dean of advancement of MCI, is heavily involved in the partnership with EQ&IQ and said that the relationship falls in line with an environment that MCI tries to promote.

“We have students from 20 countries here at MCI, our culture is very diverse here,” Nichols said. “So having students from EQ&IQ come and interact with our student body just gives us all an opportunity to learn and make the world a smaller place.”

Chinese student Jasper Yu is seen through a fellow student’s bound arms Monday as Confucius sayings are recited at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. Bound arms are a sign of respect in Chinese culture, according to the group leader. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson

Cherry Liu, 17, said her experience in America has taught her how different the two cultures are.

“Well, the food is very different here than it is in China, I’m not used to that,” Liu said. “But also the way we study, in America we study in big groups but in China, we study by ourselves. That stands out the most to me.”

According to McDonald, the partnership between MCI and EQ&IQ will continue to grow.

“So we’ll be moving forward with a STEM camp, and STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math, this summer,” McDonald said. “It will give the kids a richer experience and opportunities to participate in real life programs, we’ll have local businesses involved. Each week will have a different theme, like one week the theme will be construction, then renewable energy …”

According to McDonald, the five-week summer camp will replace the two week visit EQ&IQ students have done for the past two years.

In addition to EQ&IQ in China, MCI currently has partnerships with schools in Serbia, Cambodia and Vietnam.


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